Secretive American set to take control of Sunderland

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Ellis Short, the Dallas-based Irish-American businessman who owns a large share of Sunderland, has in place an agreement with the previous outright owners, the Drumaville consortium, that could mean he takes full control within the next 18 months. It is said that Short owns 30 per cent of Sunderland already, but that could be a conservative estimate.

Short has effectively controlled Sunderland since the summer and is working with the present executive board headed by the chairman, Niall Quinn. There has been nothing hostile about Short's takeover – it has been welcomed by Quinn. Not much is known about Short other than his fierce desire to remain behind the scenes. Quinn has had full knowledge of all matters regarding the takeover and it was Short's injection of money that helped the former manager Roy Keane spend last summer. With the Irish economy in recession and the individual members of the Drumaville consortium hit hard financially, Short is expected to finance any spending Sunderland do next month.

Short is also being consulted on every move as Quinn and his board search for a successor to Keane, but he is not dictating the search – Quinn is. Quinn will sit down with the caretaker manager Ricky Sbragia following the visit of Blackburn on Friday and will then reassess Sunderland's situation. Sunderland will have to factor in interest from Blackburn in Sbragia. He and their manager, Sam Allardyce, worked together at Bolton for four years.